Today the 2011-2012 RA's (Resident Life staff members) visited Unity House for cookies and chat. We got off to a literal bang when Heather noticed the RA's assembling in front of the screen door. Unfortunately, she didn't notice the screen in the door, and as she ran full tilt to greet folks, she bounced into and off of the screen, bending the frame. I was so flustered I didn't take a photo. But it all worked out. Eli Walker, a returning RA, pushed the door back into shape with his mighty muscles and used a pair of pliers to even out the bent frame.
But that wasn't the first faux pas of the day. Earlier, I had somehow burnt the bottoms of the first batch of cookies to go in the oven. A dozen emergency S'mores (recipe below) helped to make up for the sadness of burnt cookies.
Everyone was very gracious about my cookie problem, and everyone seemed to find something interesting about Unity House. For some folks it was the re-arrangable Flor carpeting, or the folding wall between the living area and the guest room; for others it was Stephen's Mac and double monitor set up. Eve and Becca both liked my little espresso machine.
The RAs have been in training this week, and from what I heard today, we might call it "social sustainability training": they learn how to establish and nurture sustainable social environments in the residence halls. Sustainable social environments are built to last because they are built on shared community standards -- including respect for differences.
Our Director of Residence Life, Steve Nason, provides RAs with strategies for creating those shared community standards on each residence hall floor, like the "Pick Five" exercise, when residents choose the top five of a list of fifteen possible community standards. Under his guidance, the RA's also run a program on roommate expectations. Open communication about expectations is another key to sustainable group living. Check out Steve's work on a definition of sustainability for his professional organization for more thoughts on this topic.
Sustainable relationships can be intentionally created. Making conscious choices about one's attitude is a part of this. As RA Ryan Morrison says, "Optimism rubs off." Here, Heather, the screen door buster, seems optimistic that she might get some of Shyra's cookie.
Meeting bright, enthusiastic, caring young people -- like this year's group of RA's -- always raises my level of optimism about the future. Maybe this generation's values about conservation, environment and community will be built for the long run, be more sustainable than my generations' values. And maybe next time I won't burn the cookies.
10 Graham Crackers
2 Chocolate Bars
1. Break the Graham Crackers in half. Place ten on a cookie sheet; reserve the other ten.
2. Break the chocolate bars into ten pieces. Place the chocolate pieces
on top of the graham crackers.
3. Cut the marshmallows in half with a scissors. Place one marshmallow half on top of each cracker, over the chocolate pieces.
4. Bake for about 4 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the marshmallows soften and begin to melt.
5. Remove from oven and top each marshmallow with a reserved graham cracker half to make a sandwich. Squish the crackers together to spread the marshmallow.